These financial hacks will change your life

With ever-increasing fuel costs and other rising expenses keeping South Africans on financial tenterhooks, now’s the time to take stock of your purse and take back control

Madri Jacobs, a Senior Financial Planner at Sanlam, says that while there’s usually no such thing as a quick fiscal fix, there are some smart financial hacks that may just make a huge difference.

Here are some of the hacks that can help you turn your financial situation around, but the key is perseverance.

Ditch expensive debt

Review your loans, including mortgage and vehicle debt, credit card and retail accounts. Plan to repay the most expensive, or highest interest, debt first. It’s tempting to buy on credit, but you often end up paying more for your purchases because of expensive interest. Try to repay these accounts over a few months, ditch the cards and buy with cash in the future.

Spring-clean your bank account

Take the past three months’ bank statements and check every single detail. Check all costs, fees and banking charges. Determine whether you optimally use the monthly package you pay for. You could consider downgrading to a more suitable package or even switching banks if you see that you can pay less for the services you need elsewhere.

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Review your subscriptions

Review your TV subscription(s), data and Internet provider costs, as well as gym or club memberships. If you do not use any of these often, ask yourself if you still need them. Based on my experience, you can save approximately R99 to R899 per month, just from cancelling or downgrading subscriptions.”

Pack lunch

Packing lunch is a great way to cut down on costs, plus you’ll probably eat more healthily. This tip will never go out of fashion. If you are able to save just R20 per day, it amounts to R100 per week, which could add up to about R4 000 if you do this for 40 weeks of the year.

Borrow before you buy

Next time you’re in need of a gadget or home appliance, message a friend or ask a neighbour if he or she has one you can borrow. There’s no need to invest in a fancy pasta maker if you’re only planning to use it once. If you do have gadgets gathering dust, consider selling these for extra cash.

If you still want something after you’ve thought about it for five days, then maybe it’s worth it. If not, you should probably take that money and put it towards your emergency fund instead.

Budget – create one, review it frequently and stick to it

This should be the cornerstone of your financial planning. Split your budget into a long-term, medium-term and short-term plan. Involve all family members in the planning process to make the household budget work. Budgets get you to review your finances, manage it more effectively and set longer-term goals.

Never go without a shopping list

It’s always dangerous to shop without a list, especially if you’re hungry and in a grocery store. Follow two golden rules: stick to a list and consider buying in bulk when it benefits you to do so. When buying in bulk, compare the unit costs. For instance, if it costs R100 to buy 5kg but R17 to buy 1kg, you’ll pay less when you buy multiple 1kg packs. Remember, lists also mean you’re less likely to forget items, which could cause unnecessary repeat trips to the shop that waste time and precious petrol.

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Beat the transport blues

Walk, take public transport or carpool with a colleague. Beat soaring petrol prices by travelling smartly. With petrol prices, this high, cutting back on drive-time can mean big savings.

Get a personal financial trainer

Trying to budget, spend less and save is very similar to trying to work out all by yourself. It is easier to join an athletics club or commit to exercising with a friend. Just like you need a fitness coach, you need a financial one. Find a personal financial trainer who you can be accountable to and build a relationship with. 

Never lose hope

Remember that you are not the only one struggling to balance your budget. Keep going, no matter what or how many times you fail. Draw up a budget and stick to it.